During a spring vacation in Hawaii, I read some excellent reviews for a small tonkatsu (japanese style fried pork cutlet) place on Beach Walk in Honolulu. Being close to where I was staying, I decided to check the place out.
Ginza Bairin is a chain of japanese tonkatsu restaurants, with locations in Japan, China, Korea and Hawaii.
Arrived shortly before noon and found myself in a lineup. I was told I would need to wait about 25 minutes. Ordinarily, I would have moved on, because there’s no shortage of places to eat nearby, but this place was so highly recommended, I waited it out.
While it is a tonkatsu place, the menu has a variety of deep-fried goodness (like chicken, shrimp, scallop, potato croquette, etc).
Since I was alone, I was seated at the counter.
From the lunch menu, I chose the lunch-sized katsu curry set (opted for pork cutlet, but chicken was an option. I figure that since pork cutlet is their thing, go with it).
When my order arrived, it came with a warm bowl of miso soup. This was pretty good, but to be forthright, I’m not a big fan of miso soup, so I’m not a good judge of quality here.
The order also came with a dish of pickled daikon radish. The tartness provided some nice acidic contrast to the heavy flavors of the main course.
And the center piece of the order was fried pork cutlet, served with rice and curry sauce. This is a beautifully prepared pork cutlet, dredged in panko, and deep fried to very light crisp. The pork was tender and juicy, and nicely seasoned. The panko coating was crispy. The curry sauce was thick and rich in earthy aromatic spices, but not especially fiery (only the slightest amount of heat)
It was a nice touch, serving the sliced pork cutlet atop the rice. This kept the pork crispy (had it been served in the curry, it would have become soggy quickly).
My order also came with a salad of crisp shredded cabbage, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. These greens were crispy, cool and fresh.
and the salad was served with sesame soy dressing.
I found this lunch sized portion to be quite generous, and I’m trying to imagine how large the dinner sized portion must be.
This small place was very busy during the lunch hour, but the crowd thinned out considerably by the time I left (around 1:30pm).
The servers were very polite and always smiling.